All I remember is running in the day road race as a little girl around the Newton County Square and my John Schneider T Shirt being yellow. I was so proud to run in the John Schneider day road race held in Downtown Covington as a little girl. Now the entire world is upset over the Battle Flag that adorns The General Lee. I have no memory ever of my parent’s nor my family teaching me or trying to instill in me hate or bigotry over the Battle Flag. Given it is The Battle Flag that is on the General Lee. My parent’s taught me that I lived in a beautiful towering town that was saved from being burned to the ground when Sherman marched through and that I should respect, love and cherish my hometown. My parent’s always did and so I grew up cherishing the quaint small town that I still call home. Of course I watched The Dukes of Hazard but it no more left hate in my heart then nor does it today. It is a part of Georgia’s rich heritage and history. It symbolizes for me a passion for history of the State of Georgia and my descendants. Reading much to do about Stone Mountain and how it is Georgia’s eternal resting ground for the Confederate Flag and its memories of The Civil War. I have not and do not ever feel hate nor racism when I think of the flag and truly have no opinion on the new Georgia State flag other than if it helps some to not be offended then so be it. I do not think anyone should have to live in a world where they feel hate or anger. But to me it has never represented hate or anger or racism. Stone Mountain has taken a stand and stated that it will continue to fly the Confederate Flag and be Georgia’s eternal resting ground for the Confederate Flag. As I walked through downtown Covington this morning I stopped at the base of the statue on the Covington Square and reflected on my past and wondered how many people tomorrow will be offended by the statue or if there will be peace and harmony among everyone. Prayerful that everyone feels welcome and right at home as they enjoy the 4th of July’s festivities as the first where a nation must mourn for the lives lost in Charleston and what will mark history’s very first Lady Liberty celebration in grief and mourning over the 9 loving lives lost to hate. A hate that will never be forgotten. We as a community do need to pull together as a community and lift up one another in times of grief and distress but I do not feel that history should be forgotten or replaced. I do not want my feelings or beliefs to ever hurt another or get in the way of their happiness or right of passage of freedom but I will still cherish my rich southern history. A history that included African Americans that fought in The Civil War honoring them as well each time I think of my forefather’s and their devotion to Newton County and the town they saved by grace and sheer pure luck and the will power to save our town. As we reflect upon how our town was saved all those years ago and is still standing today because of Whites and African Americans fighting side by side I want for there to be a harmonious feeling of love and laughter that exudes from tomorrow’s festivities where we are all one side by side once again. Wondering if I will ever stop mourning the 9 lives lost and the shooter’s life being ruined by self destruction all out of hate. A pure hate in the American flag as well. Wishing you and your family a very supremely happy and momentous 4th of July this year as we a community grieve and try to begin the healing process in our small knit town.